Problems with the jaw, including pain related to TMJ syndrome, is a difficult thing to live with. Symptoms include tenderness in and around the jaw and/or ear, being unable to chew properly, and difficulty opening and closing the mouth due to a locked joint.
Whether or not you’ve received an actual diagnosis of TMJ syndrome, you’re probably wondering exactly what the problem is and how it can be fixed.
The root cause of jaw pain
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the pivotal joint that allows the jaw to move. This incredible joint allows both pivoting and sliding. Normally these movements are easy and smooth on account of the cartilage covering the areas of the joint involved in movement, as well as a disk that absorbs shock.
When the cartilage is damaged—whether by repetitive motion, arthritis, problems in the cervical spine, or a specific trauma—the smooth and painless movement of the jaw is lost. This is TMJ syndrome. The frustrating things is that most cases of TMJ syndrome have no identifiable cause.
The case for chiropractics
People often overlook chiropractic treatment as an option for TMJ syndrome and other jaw-related issues. This is due to the common assumption that chiropractic treatment is only relevant to problems in the back and neck. Why would chiropractic adjustments to these areas have beneficial effects on the jaw?
Problems in the spine, especially in the cervical spine, can lead to imbalances elsewhere, including the jaw. That’s the first important point. The second thing to be aware of is that chiropractors are expertly trained to make specific adjustments to the jaw itself. This is because approximately 10 million Americans are affected by TMJ syndrome, and many of them quickly become wary of treatments that are too invasive or just don’t work.
How will a chiropractic treatment actually alleviate my jaw pain?
A detailed assessment of your jaw symptoms and a detailed discussion about treatment options will always come first. Depending on what the doctor observes in your jaw and spine, a series of gentle adjustments will follow. The purpose of these adjustments will be to correct imbalances in the spinal and temporomandibular joint that are directly or indirectly causing pain and stiffness in the jaw.
More specifically, expert chiropractic treatment can adjust problematic joints, relax surrounding muscles, and utilize pressure points to correct the jaw’s position. The exact methods used will depend on the specific nature of your TMJ syndrome.
Although most cases of TMJ syndrome aren’t easily tied to a definite cause, it’s always a strong possibility that certain behaviors are partly responsible. A comprehensive chiropractic treatment will include advice on lifestyle changes, including protective sports equipment, improvements to posture, and dietary choices. The adjustments are often highly effective and can bring lasting relief—but repeating the same patterns can lead to similar problems in the future.
The natural alternative
Getting relief from TMJ disorders shouldn’t be a short-term pursuit, nor should it entail a long list of side-effects. Chiropractic treatment can be combined with gentle massage therapy and lifestyle guidance to provide lasting, natural treatment for stiffness and pain in the jaw. Your chiropractic specialist may also recommend a number of specific jaw exercises, hot and cold packs, sleeping positions, and mouth guards to be worn at night (if teeth grinding is an issue).
By combining expert adjustments with a number of supplemental therapies, our skilled chiropractic team can address the underlying imbalances that actually create these painful symptoms. For many sufferers of TMJ disorders, chiropractic treatment is the natural solution they’ve been waiting for.